On Wednesday 10 December 2014, West London Synagogue’s own Rabbi David Mitchell and his partner, Ian Kirsh, kicked off a day of celebration as the first of three same-sex Jewish couples to celebrate fully-fledged legal marriages.
The other couples were Orlando Ortega Medina and William Campos Ortega and Sir Terence Etherton and Andrew Stone.
The proceedings took place under a chuppah (canopy) and included blessings, the exchange of rings and vows, one partner encircling the other, and the smashing of glasses to recognise, even within the happiness of this ceremony in the UK, the pain and sorrow of gay couples in other countries who are forced into secrecy, oppressed or persecuted, and other abuses of human rights and worldwide oppression marking Human Rights Day 2014.
West London Synagogue’s Senior Rabbi, Baroness Julia Neuberger and colleagues Rabbi Helen Freeman and Rabbi David Mitchell were joined by Principal of Leo Baeck College, Rabbi Dr Deborah Kahn-Harris, Rabbi Ariel Friedlander and Rabbi Janet Darley in conducting the ceremonies. Rabbi Julia Neuberger herself, as a member of the House of Lords, has championed the rights of same-sex couples to marry in a single ceremony that fulfils both religious and civil requirements for marriage. Rabbi Neuberger said: “I am so proud that my community has embraced the new legislation concerning same-sex marriage with open arms. This is entirely consistent with the community’s staunch belief in supporting human rights across the board for a just and fair society.”
Rabbi David Mitchell and Ian Kirsh said: “What a brave new world – we are profoundly grateful to have been the third generation of Ian’s family to have stood under the chuppah at West London Synagogue celebrating our religious, legal and equal marriage.”
The second couple to marry, Orlando Ortega Medina and William Campos Ortega , added: “We are immensely proud of Great Britain for taking this historic step, and deeply grateful to West London Synagogue for the honour of having allowed us to celebrate our chuppah in this beautiful sanctuary, accompanied by our family and dearest friends.”
Lastly, commenting on the third wedding of the day, Andrew Stone concluded: “We are so grateful to the rabbis and many others at WLS who made our wedding such a wonderful, joyous and spiritual event. It was perfect in every respect.”